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Chemistry > Solutions > Sodium Carbonate – Definition, Formula, Uses

Sodium Carbonate – Definition, Formula, Uses

Sodium Carbonate – Definition, Formula, Uses

First of all, sodium carbonate formula is Na2CO3 with (O = 45,29 %, Na = 43,38 %, C = 11,33 %). Furthermore, washing soda, soda ash, and soda crystals are the other names of Sodium carbonate. Moreover, Na2CO3 is the inorganic compound with many hydrates.

The production of Na2CO3 takes place in large quantities from sodium chloride and limestone by the Solvay process. Furthermore, all its forms are white, water-soluble salts. Moreover, all forms that have sodium carbonate formula, have a strongly alkaline taste and give moderately alkaline solutions in water. Let’s learn more about sodium carbonate and sodium carbonate formula here.

sodium carbonate formula

Hydrates with Regards to Sodium Carbonate Formula

There are certainly three different hydrates of Sodium carbonate and as the anhydrous salt:

  •  Na2CO3·10H2O,  sodium carbonate decahydrate (natron)
  • Na2CO3·7H2O,  sodium carbonate heptahydrate.
  • Na2CO3·H2O,  Thermonatrite.
  • Anhydrous salt or anhydrous Na2CO3 is also known as calcined soda and is formed by heating the hydrates. Furthermore, it is also formed when sodium hydrogen carbonate is heated (calcined), like in the final step of the Solvay process.

Natural Occurrence of Sodium Carbonate 

First of all, sodium carbonate is soluble in water. Furthermore, it is present naturally in desertic regions, especially from mineral deposits (evaporites) whose formation takes place when seasonal lakes evaporate. Moreover, deposits of the mineral have been mined from dry lake bottoms in Egypt since ancient times.

The salt form of sodium carbonate is very rare and called natrite. The eruption of sodium carbonate takes place from the unqiue volcano at Ol Doinyo Lengai, Tanzania. All three mineralogical forms of sodium carbonate are present in ultra-alkaline pegmatitic rocks, for example in the Kola Peninsula in Russia.

Sodium Carbonate Formula Preparation

1) From plant and Seaweed-  We can process several “halophyte” (salt-tolerant) plant species and seaweed species to yield an impure form of sodium carbonate. People harvest and burn land plants or seaweed.

We will then have to wash the residual ash with water to form an alkali solution. We need to boil this solution thereafter to create the final product.

2) Mining- Trona, trisodium hydrogen dicarbonate dihydrate (Na3HCO3CO3·2H2O), is mined in several areas of the US. There are also important reserves of trona in Turkey. It is also present in some alkaline lakes such as Lake Magadi in Kenya by dredging.

3) Solvay process- A method to convert sodium chloride to sodium carbonate using ammonia and carbon dioxide:

NaCl + NH3 + CO2 + H2O → NaHCO3 + NH4Cl.

We then convert the resultant sodium bicarbonate to sodium carbonate by heating it, releasing water and carbon dioxide.

2NaHCO3 → Na2CO3 + H2O + CO2.

Uses of Sodium Carbonate

1) Water softening- Sodium carbonate is useful to soften water by removing Mg2+ and Ca2+. All these ions form insoluble solid precipitates upon treatment with carbonate ions. Furthermore, soft water reduces soap wastage and also increases the life of pipes and fittings from rust.

2) Glass manufacture- Sodium carbonate serves as a flux for silica, lowering the melting point of the mixture to achieve ‘soda-lime glass’ without special materials and inexpensively.

3) Food additive- Sodium carbonate is a food additive (E500) which also acts as an acidity regulator, anticaking agent, raising agent, and stabilizer.

4) Other uses- Sodium carbonate is useful in the brick industry as a wetting agent to reduce the amount of water needed to extrude the clay. Moreover, its use also takes place in the toothpaste, where it acts as a foaming agent and an abrasive.

Solved Question For You

Q.1. Is sodium carbonate non-toxic or hazardous?

Ans– Sodium carbonate is not really toxic, but its corrosive effects can be dangerous to the gastrointestinal system if swallowed. Inhalation of this chemical can cause respiratory tract irritation, breathing problem, coughing, etc.

Q. 2. Who was the discoverer of sodium carbonate?

Ans- Nicolas LeBlanc a French chemist (1742-1806) first produced significant amounts of sodium carbonate with a synthetic process known as the LeBlanc process.

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